Forum Activity for @Samuel Maruta

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
10/25/11 01:39:00PM
19 posts

What does "Sustainable" mean to you, when it comes to cocoa?


Posted in: Opinion

Good question. Being back in my hometown in Gascony, watching the October sun set on the yellow-leafed vines that were harvested last month, and that were already planted around here by the Romans 2000 years ago, I guess the obvious notion of sustainable cocoa ought to be: a cultivation of cocoa that could be sustained for many centuries, while nurturing the local community, its people and its culture.
Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
10/25/11 09:15:14AM
19 posts

What does "Sustainable" mean to you, when it comes to cocoa?


Posted in: Opinion

We see a lot of UTZ cacao in Vietnam (in fact most of our current chocolate line comes from UTZ cacao), but because the certification is either unknown or associated to huge industrial actors (Mars, Cargill...) we haven't bothered indicating that our chocolate is 'UTZ certified'; having said that, if the certification is done reasonably, which I haven't checked in detail, to exclude obviously non environmentally-friendly or exploitative practices, I say why not, because what we see on the ground is UTZ farmers getting a premium without the well-known (on this forum at least) drawbacks of the costly, cumbersome Fair Trade or Organic certification process, which are just beyond the reach of any individual Vietnamese farmer.
Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
04/24/14 07:50:45AM
19 posts

What Price, Cocoa?


Posted in: Opinion

You do sometimes see cocoa pods sold as fruits by the side of the road, but usually it's not because the farmers don't know what to do with them, but rather because they know the tourist buses that ply the road to the Mekong Delta will stop there and they can sell the pods at 'novelty item' value which is far > than their value sold to a fermentary, even one like that created by Grand Place which pays a pretty good price. Generally speaking volumes are low (5000 t pa = 0.1% of world production) but it doesn't mean the cacao is not interesting.

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
04/24/14 02:02:53AM
19 posts

What Price, Cocoa?


Posted in: Opinion

Hi Mel, you can contact me by email: samuel@marouchocolate.com

Cheers,

Sam

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
10/25/11 04:28:16PM
19 posts

What Price, Cocoa?


Posted in: Opinion

In Vietnam the farmers we buy from get paid London market price at the farm from the big bulk buyers. They get daily text messages on their mobile phones indicating the day's market price from the local Armajaro buyer and from the local Cargill buyer. A textbook example of competitive market making...
Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
10/25/11 09:20:36AM
19 posts

Aluminium foil for chocolate


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi all,

I was wondering if any of you have an opinion about foil vs. paper-backed foil vs. plastified foil and how you can certify the food-grade quality of your wrapping.

Thanks,

Samuel

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
09/23/11 12:36:19PM
19 posts

Salon du Chocolat Paris 2011


Posted in: News & New Product Press

Who's in, who's out, if you've been before what are your tips?
updated by @Samuel Maruta: 04/19/15 02:04:27PM
Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
07/05/11 01:58:35PM
19 posts

What would an "ideal" ethical certification program look like?


Posted in: Opinion

On the subject of premium for post-harvesting, I have seen big buyers in Vietnam offer 0-premium for post-harvest, meaning they will buy pods at 1/12 the price of dry beans per kg, which as far as I know is the weight ratio between pod and dry bean, so the 6 days of fermentation and week+ of drying is simply not remunerated. The way Brian sees it it should be a great boon for farmers "pods for the price of beans! yeah!", but I can't help thinking that in the long run it could be a dangerous game for farmers. If there's no money to be made in post-harvest then there's no need to invest in the know-how, the boxes, the drying racks... until such day comes when the buyer may no longer offer such a good deal for pods and the farmers are stuck because they no longer have the resources to do the post-harvest processing themselves. I guess it all boils down to the good or otherwise intentions of the buyers, I have no doubt Brian offers a really good deal to his farmers.
Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
10/25/11 09:23:18AM
19 posts

The High Cost of Certification


Posted in: Opinion

On the same topic you may also want to check this short but well written opinion piece:

[Edited to add: The study, "which followed hundreds of Nicaraguan coffee farmers over a decade, concluded that farmers producing for the fair-trade market are more often found below the absolute poverty line than conventional producers.

Over a period of 10 years, our analysis shows that organic and organic-fair trade farmers have become poorer relative to conventional producers.]

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
09/16/11 01:37:53PM
19 posts

The High Cost of Certification


Posted in: Opinion

Nat, many thanks for posting this, I devoured it, it's a very nice piece of academic research, I'll be in touch with Vanh.

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
07/05/11 01:34:01PM
19 posts

The High Cost of Certification


Posted in: Opinion

Same thing we're seeing here: going organic is a huge leap into the unknown for farmers in Vietnam. Local farms average < 1 ha of cocoa / farm. The only project in place here has its (huge) bill paid by a foreign aid agency. It's great that they are doing this but once they're done with the project I am somewhat dubious of the farmers' capacity in perpetuating the scheme. At the end of the day certification is by definition a bureaucratic exercise: a/ set norms, b/put in place standards to verify the norms are being upheld, c/ bury any query under a ton of paper... When you're dealing with a family on a farm that is just a couple acres, has a few hundred cocoa trees, some other marketable crops, a pond for raising fish, a pig or two and some chickens running around the vegetable patch, the whole thing seems a bit absurd. On the other hand I like the fact that I know the guys who sell us cocoa by their first name and that when we finish weighing the bags the money goes directly in their pocket.
Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
06/07/11 12:49:33PM
19 posts

What does it really cost to set up a bean to bar chocolate factory?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

And I thought we only had such nightmares in Vietnam!
Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
06/06/11 06:24:14AM
19 posts

What does it really cost to set up a bean to bar chocolate factory?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi Mickey,

I totally agree with Brad, a proper business plan is a must. I did write and implement a few of them in my previous career before turning to chocolate and they included a few extra zeros compared with our current artisanal bean-2-bar chocolate project.

Also agree with an earlier comment: a decent business plan allows you to tap into bank / investors which can make all the difference between day dreaming about your company and actually getting it started.

Having said that the investment and monthly spend figures that you quoted are small but not unrealistic as such, but it's just impossible to say without the other side of the equation:

How much are you selling your products for?

Based on that, how much margin are you making on each unit you are selling (leaving aside fixed costs)?

How many units are you going to sell?

If you find out that your number of units x margin per unit eventually covers your fixed costs you're on the right track. I sometimes see people getting fixated on the margin % without thinking of the production numbers, which are just as important: say you are making a 100% margin on reindeer-shaped chocolates you import from northern Latvia, they cost you 1USD and you sell them for 2, that's a really good margin, but, assuming it takes you time and effort to source and sell your wares, unless you know for sure you can sell a couple thousands of them per month you're probably better off keeping your day job.

Cheers,

Sam

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
05/25/11 10:23:18AM
19 posts

If Selmi is the Cadalac what is a JKV and why?


Posted in: Chocolate Education

I think another advantage of the Selmi (or similar designs, other brands we've looked at like Chocolate World or Gami make nearly identical machines) over the wheel is that you can keep feeding it with melted chocolate for a truly continuous production.

What happens is that with a wheel machine you have to temper the chocolate in the beginning and then keep it in temperature and motion so that it doesn't solidify. In the Selmi you have a 'tap' and a 'sink' (although I think they call it a tank, but it's actually open like a sink. Between those 2 is a circuit that pumps the chocolate from the sink and spits it out through the tap. Unlike in a wheel machine, the tank just contains melted chocolate, not tempered chocolate and the tempering process (cooling at a precise temperature) actually happens in the circuit between the sink and the tap: that's why you get tempered chocolate coming out of the tap, and as you use up the content of the tank you can add more chocolate pellets or more melted chocolate from a kettle. The result is much higher productivity, but the extra cost can probably only be justified if you have the quantity to match.

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
05/26/11 12:03:15AM
19 posts

getting cocoa liquor with a corona grinder


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I very much doubt you could get any cocoa butter out of this machine, not sure where you have seen this being used for cocoa butter extraction but if you have a Piteba you're probably much better off using that to press your cocoa butter. I extracted a few hundred grams of cocoa butter from a Piteba in maybe 20 minutes the other day. It's a pretty horrible machine to work with as everything is too small and using it with cocoa beans is probably a stretch too far from its original purpose, but at least you do get cocoa butter dripping out of the thing!
Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
11/15/13 09:10:29PM
19 posts

Where can I find a Guillotine?


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi Clay, sure, here are a few of the photos! Btw I'd like to add the caveats I mentioned in y reply to Thomas: theseare pictures of our guillotine when new. 2 years on it's still pretty much in daily usage and aging gracefully. If you are interested in one we'll have to check prices &availabilityagain (it's been 2 years...).

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
11/14/13 08:11:01PM
19 posts

Where can I find a Guillotine?


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi Thomas, sure give me your email address and I will send you photos.

Samuel Maruta
@Samuel Maruta
06/06/11 05:42:10AM
19 posts

Where can I find a Guillotine?


Posted in: Classifieds

We were also reluctant to pay in the 4 digits (USD or Euro) and managed to source a decent quality guillotine from pretty much home made by a local supplier. Can supply photos, just send me a message if you're interested. 600 USD + shipment.